Climbing Olympic build-up starts in Hong Kong as top star Kim Ja-in joins line-up for Just Climb Cup 2017

The 28-year-old is a multiple world champion as the sport tries to boost its profile ahead of its Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 7:23pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 August, 2017, 2:33pm

Former world champion Kim Ja-in will be the star attraction at this weekend’s Kailas Just Climb Cup 2017 as Hong Kong organisers attempt to boost the sport’s profile ahead of its debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The 28-year-old Kim, from South Korea, is one of the biggest names in world climbing. She won gold medals at the 2014 and 2015 IFSC Climbing World Cups and also triumphed at the 2014 IFSC Climbing World Championships (lead event).

Red Bull climber Kim will be joined in the competition by her older brother and top male star Kim Ja-bee, who is also president of the ACC Athletes Commission.

“With sports climbing confirmed as being part of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the event will be even more important for the top athletes,” said Danny Ho, gym director of organiser Just Climb Climbing Gym.

“We are really excited to have world-class climbers and it is a real boost for the tournament. The competition provides an opportunity to promote the sport in the region and allows a professional platform for all climbers to compete and interact and help to strengthen the climbing industry and improve overall standards.”

The tournament, which was launched in 2011, gained further credibility when the it was sanctioned by the International Federation of Sport Climbing and Asian body ACC as the first promotional event on the competition calendar for 2017.

The tournament, featuring boulder climbing, will be held on Saturday and Sunday at Central Atrium in Olympic City 2, West Kowloon.

Kim Ja-in is known for her skills in lead climbing and bouldering competitions. She won the Lead Climbing World Cup three times (2010, 2013, 2014), the Lead Climbing World Championship once (2014), and the Rock Master once (2010, Lead discipline).

Born into a family of mountain-dwellers and climbers, she started climbing when she was 12 years old, in 2001. At 16, she started competing in world-class tournaments.

She has been the dominant Asian climber since 2004.

“I started climbing when I was 12 years old,” she once said. “My family influenced me a lot to start climbing.

“My parents enjoy hiking and climbing, and they actually met and fell in love in the mountains. My two brothers are also climbers, and my older brother coaches me. It’s really helpful to have such great support from my family.”

The course for this year’s competition is designed by Japan’s Hiroshi Okano, who is a well-known route-setter in the sport and a member of the IFSC.

As chief route-setter, he is in charge creating a challenging and testing route for the bouldering competition.

“It’s a design,” he says. “We imagine the climbing scene in our minds and we actually execute it via the route setting.”

Sport climbing, as well as four other codes, was confirmed as part of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics roster in August last year during the Rio Games.

The climbing events will take place at the Aomi Urban Sports Venue (Koto ward) in Tokyo.

“This temporary facility will be the dynamic and innovative venue for the sport climbing and skateboarding competitions, Tokyo 2020’s newest and most youthful events,” Tokyo Games organisers said in a statement when they made the announcement. “Situated in a spectacular location with Tokyo Bay as a backdrop, it will delight athletes, spectators and television viewers alike throughout the world.”

The venue will also stage the skateboarding events, another sport that will make its Olympic debut, along with baseball/softball, karate and surfing.